News, Culture & Society

Inside Cuomo’s breakup with Sandra Lee: Ex-aides claim governor’s cheating was an open secret

A new report has claimed that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee might have broken down due to suspicions of infidelity.

Lee, 54, has remained conspicuously silent since allegations first emerged that Cuomo sexually harassed female staffers – and now sources tell the New York Post that they suspect Cuomo was cheating on her with at least one aide.

The report detailed claims that Cuomo’s team jealously guarded his schedule from Lee, as he spent long nights at the office surrounded by young staffers and snuck off for late-night drinks at a restaurant sharing a building with his Manhattan office.

‘It was an open secret,’ one ex-aide claimed to the newspaper. ‘Andrew was sleeping with at least one other woman who wasn’t Sandra’ before they officially ended their relationship. 

Cuomo is seen with Sandra Lee in 2013. Lee, the celebrity chef and Food Network star, began dating Cuomo in 2005, and they split in 2019

Cuomo strenuously denied the claims, telling the Post: ‘Any suggestion that I had a sexual relationship with any member of my staff or that I was unfaithful to Sandy is false.’

Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email inquiry from DailyMail.com regarding the former staffers’ claims. 

Lee, the celebrity chef and Food Network star, began dating Cuomo in 2005, following his divorce from Kerry Kennedy, with whom he shares three daughters, and the couple broke up in 2019 after more than a decade together. 

Cuomo was famously portrayed as her doting boyfriend during her battle with breast cancer in 2015, when she underwent a double mastectomy.

The couple shared Lee’s home in Mount Kisco, which she dubbed Lily Pond and spent years transforming into a beloved showpiece.

The couple’s split was apparently amicable, and in a joint statement at the time they said: ‘We have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship.’ 

But behind the scenes, five former Cuomo staffers told the Post they are convinced he was involved with, or at least pursuing, at least one staffer while he was living with Lee.

Lee is seen in a recent selfie in Malibu, where she has retreated to start a new life. 'There's obviously a reason why Sandra moved to California — she literally could not have moved farther away from Andrew,' one former staffer said

Lee is seen in a recent selfie in Malibu, where she has retreated to start a new life. ‘There’s obviously a reason why Sandra moved to California — she literally could not have moved farther away from Andrew,’ one former staffer said

The couple shared Lee's home in Mount Kisco, which she dubbed Lily Pond and spent years transforming into a beloved showpiece before selling the house in December

The couple shared Lee’s home in Mount Kisco, which she dubbed Lily Pond and spent years transforming into a beloved showpiece before selling the house in December 

One told how a state trooper who came to pick up Cuomo at Lily Pond early in the morning was stunned to see him leave the house with a staffer. ‘There was no reason for this woman to be there so early,’ the person said.

Cuomo’s spokesman denied any staffers ever spent the night at the Mount Kisco home, saying that they occasionally met him there early in the morning to join his entourage to ride to an event.

Staffers also raised questions about a trip to Israel in 2017, when a female staffer was booked into a hotel room adjoining his, but travel logs were changed to show a state trooper in the room.

Cuomo staffer Steve Cannon told the Post that travel rules mandate that security personnel are the only ones allowed to stay in adjoining rooms when the governor travels, and when the hotel’s mistake in room reservations was discovered, the room assignments were changed. 

Others say that Cuomo left strict instructions with staffers not to tell Lee when he slipped out of his Midtown Manhattan office for late-night drinks at Docks, a seafood restaurant in the same building.

‘I would ask whether Sandra was going on a trip with Andrew, and all the mean girls… would start laughing and say nothing. They would be rolling their eyes,’ one ex-staffer said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by top aide Melissa DeRosa, walks to talk with reporters after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in 2017

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by top aide Melissa DeRosa, walks to talk with reporters after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in 2017

'Any suggestion that I had a sexual relationship with any member of my staff or that I was unfaithful to Sandy is false,' said Cuomo, seen above with Lee in 2007

‘Any suggestion that I had a sexual relationship with any member of my staff or that I was unfaithful to Sandy is false,’ said Cuomo, seen above with Lee in 2007

Former aide Ana Liss, one of the women who has accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, also said that the governor’s personal diary was kept away from Lee.

‘I know from my time working there that Sandra was very clearly kept away from Andrew by the folks controlling his schedule,’ Liss told the Post. 

‘She was only brought forth in public on certain special occasions. Given the lack of frequency of their time spent together publicly and privately, it had a performative nature about it. It felt like watching Princess Diana. She [Sandra] is a beautiful, statuesque woman who complemented the governor’s gruffness,’ she added.

‘She never stayed at the mansion that I was aware of,’ said Liss, who added that it ‘did strike me as odd that he was rarely at home with her.’

A Cuomo spokesmen strongly denied these claims, saying that Lee frequently spent time at the Albany governor’s mansion, and that a copy of Cuomo’s daily schedule was emailed to her every evening.

Former staffers also told of questionable pool parties at the governor’s mansion and ‘movie nights’ attended by female staffers, all without Lee, who often traveled to the West Coast to care for family.

Former aide Ana Liss (above), one of the women who has accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, also said that the governor's personal diary was kept away from Lee

Former aide Ana Liss (above), one of the women who has accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, also said that the governor’s personal diary was kept away from Lee

‘Andrew’s treatment of Sandra is part of the puzzle that will finalize the picture about this guy,’ one staffer said. 

The governor’s spokesman said any staff gatherings outside of work were family-friendly and did not result in guests staying overnight at the governor’s mansion.  

‘Sandra was very much part of the family and the office has nothing but respect for her,’ the spokesman said.

Lee has not yet spoken out publicly either to support or condemn Cuomo after at least 10 women accused him of untoward remarks, lewd propositions, or inappropriate touching.  

Cuomo has previously said he has never forced himself on anyone and that, at worst, his affectionate and playful nature may have been misinterpreted. 

In Malibu, where she has family ties, Lee has made a fresh start and embraced West Coast living in a $3.38 million beachfront house, which sits right next to the water offering spectacular coastline views and the vast Pacific. 

After settling in to her new beachfront abode, Lee has been posting messages of support for her friends and family members on Instagram, including for a beloved uncle who is suffering health challenges. 

‘Sending everyone peace and loving healing regards from Malibu! The best sunsets ever thank God for the Ocean!’ she wrote in one post in February.

‘There’s obviously a reason why Sandra moved to California — she literally could not have moved farther away from Andrew. She’s on the edge of the Pacific,’ one insider told the Post. ‘Andrew is toxic.’  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk